The new look rebuilding Gloucester Centurions travelled down to the highly rated Bournemouth Bobcats with a squad of 25 to face a well drilled and experienced Bobcats squad with over 45 players kitted, but it was quality not quantity that proved to be the theme of the day.
With wide receiver Chris Taylor standing in at quarterback and several rookies making their senior debut the Centurions made the sensible decision to stick to a simple playbook, however having elected to receive the kick off the very first offensive drive of the day didn't quite go to plan. Failing to make the required 10 yards Centurions were forced to punt, unfortunately an over enthusiastic snap went sailing over the punters head and possession was handed to the Bobcats on our own 15. With only a short field to work with it didn't take long for the Bobcats to pick up the first score of the day, running in a touchdown and then failing with a 2 point conversion attempt for a 6-0 lead.
Having conceded so early in the game, based on previous seasons experiences it would have been no surprise if the Centurions had folded in and self destructed at this point, however it is testament to the new team ethos being built by new Head Coach James Saddler that this didn't happen, in fact the Centurions offence came back on to the field full of determination to make amends for their previous short drive. Despite a couple of minor penalties the Centurions drove it out of their own half, but eventually punted handing possession to the Bobcats deep in their own half. Now it was time to see how the new look Centurions defence could handle matters with a far stronger field position.
The Bobcats elected to play a run heavy offence however this was no problem for the Centurions with new signings Dele Ayodele and Ben Harris both making several key tackles in the Bobcats back field, eventually forcing the Bobcats to punt.
The Centurions offence once again took to the field starting with some short dives by veteran running back Shaun Griffin and new signing, ex Berkshire Renegade Ian Lakin to get us to midfield. Ex Filton Academy pupil Jamiel Tinto was then rotated in to offer a wide running threat and along with some short pass attempts the Centurions soon found themselves in the Bobcats redzone. A few more drives up the middle and a powerplay on 4th down came up just short of a touchdown.
This was to be pretty much the same pattern of play throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarters with both teams making good drives but neither side being able to cross the line for a touchdown. Defence was dominating!
Finally in the 4th quarter both teams looked to change their offence. With the Bobcats realising they weren't going to breakdown the solid Centurions offence on the ground they decided to go the air with some passes and were unlucky to have a touchdown ruled out with the receiver catching the ball with a foot just out of bounds. However the Centurions offensive change was more effective, with centre Simon Arinze and guard Dan Garbutt making a slight change to their blocking assignments, Lakin and Griffin were both able to punch holes more effectively with Craig Harris also chipping in with some key yards and with offensive captain Karl Friston making a couple of risky but successful calls to go for it on 4th down the Centurions again found themselves in the Bobcats redzone and this time Ian Lakin successfully ran the ball in for a touchdown in his debut game. A 2 point conversion attempt was unsuccessful leaving the scores tied at 6-6 with just over 6 minutes left to play.
With the ball back in their hands from the restart the Bobcats tried again to make progression with passes but were unable to break down the excellent coverage in the secondary by Jayvon Donatien, Lewis Chapman and Ryan Woodward. Another turnover in possession gave the ball back to the Centurions deep in their own half with a little over 2 minutes remaining. Quarterback Taylor orchestrated a quick drive in to the Bobcats half and with a little over a minute left on the clock running back Shaun Griffin secured another first down with a couple of short runs up the left. Having to decide whether to play safe and take a knee on the next play to allow the clock to run out for the draw or go for it one more time and attempt to win the game but risk turning over the ball, Coach Saddler gave the offence one more chance but unfortunately the Bobcats defence made a good stop and on the next play QB Taylor did take a knee and thus secures a creditable draw away to pre season favourites Bournemouth Bobcats